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U.S. Republicans Block Capitol Riot Investigation; U.S. and Allies Target Belarus Regime with Sanctions; New Questions Surround COVID-19 Origin; Memorial Day Weekend Travel; E.U. Clears Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine for Kids 12-15; Hundreds of Tigrayans Released; Goma Residents Flee Mount Nyiragongo Volcano; U.S. Economic Recovery; Obama Praises Rashford for Childhood Food Efforts. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 29, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Blocked; Senate Republicans put a stop to a bill that would have created a Capitol riot commission but the probe into the January 6th attack isn't over yet.

The U.S. is drawing up sanctions against Belarus after it used a fake bomb threat to force a plane to land and arrest a political critic.

And for many in the United States, the first holiday weekend with a little less COVID stress. But with cases falling, the worry now is that so are the number of vaccinations.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here, in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. Senate Republicans have kept their word, blocking a crucial bill that would have established a commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill. Only six Republicans sided with Democrats in Friday's vote.

Just a few short months ago, many Republicans were adamant that a 9/11-style commission into the Capitol security was needed. Their opposition, now, shows just how much of a grip former president Donald Trump still has on much of his party. It's something the Senate Democratic leader made sure to point out after the failed vote.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Out of fear or fealty to Donald Trump, the Republican minority just prevented the American people from getting the full truth about January 6th. This vote has made it official. Donald Trump's Big Lie has now fully enveloped the Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: House Democrats are now considering launching a probe of their own, into the violent insurrection. CNN's Manu Raju has the latest.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, after Senate Republicans derailed this bipartisan commission, an outside commission that would investigate the January 6th attack and all the influencing factors leading up to it, the question is, what is next?

And House Democrats are now actively considering creating a select committee, an outside committee that would actually be led by Democrats in the House who could have subpoena power, who could schedule hearings and could drive this investigation for, really, as long as they want to.

That is something that is under active consideration. Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, who will make the ultimate call on that, has not said explicitly that's what she would do. But she has hinted that is what she would, in fact, do, if Republicans were to block a bipartisan commission.

Now that has been blocked by the Senate, a 54-35 vote in the Senate on Friday after just six Republicans broke ranks. They needed 10, total, to vote for it to break a Republican-led filibuster. Seven would have voted for it.

If the seventh senator, Pat Toomey, had attended the vote, he skipped the vote, joining 10 other colleagues from both parties who skipped the vote. But he said he would have voted in favor of it. But nevertheless, it still would have been short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

Had this thing -- had this commission been created, it would have been 10 commissioners selected, five on each side. They would have to report by the end of the year. They would have joint subpoena power.

That's why the proponents like Bill Cassidy, who voted for it, a Republican from Louisiana, said we should do a bipartisan investigation because, otherwise, Democrats will take matters in their own hands and investigate it for as long as they want.

But that plea fell on deaf ears among most Republicans in the Senate Republican conference, including the top leader, Mitch McConnell, who told his colleagues that going that route would be potentially, politically problematic, come 2022, could hurt their efforts to take back the majority in the House and the Senate when they want to focus on other issues, domestic issues, not on everything that led to the January 6th attack and create a commission that would be essentially an unassailable outside bipartisan commission.

Instead, they will paint the house effort, in their view, as a partisan endeavor. But nevertheless, that bill, the commission bill, has now failed in the Senate and Democrats are prepared to take things into their own hands -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Both the mother and partner of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick made a trip to Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with Republican senators and make a last-ditch plea for them to pass the bill. In a CNN exclusive, the two sat down with our Jake Tapper to talk about the failed vote.


SANDRA GARZA, BRIAN SICKNICK'S PARTNER: I think, you know, it's all talk and no action.

Clearly, they're not backing the blue. And yesterday, having Officer Fanone and Officer Dunn there to talk about their experiences.


GARZA: I mean, I even learned more about what actually happened on that day, hearing their stories, you know, close and up front and live and in color. And I was absolutely appalled.

So, you know, they heard it firsthand. Some of that stuff has not been put out in the media. And, you know, it's -- it's devastating because, you know, they could have, especially Officer Fanone -- he could have been murdered. And, you know, this cannot happen again. It cannot.

So, for them to vote no is, you know, it's -- it's not protecting law enforcement. And, you know, more importantly, it's -- it's not protecting our democracy.

You know, people there were not only hurting law enforcement officers and, of course, like I said yesterday, there's the ripple effect of trauma. That's still continuing today.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Oh, of course.

GARZA: Many officers, you know, are struggling with PTSD.

TAPPER: People should know you are a psychotherapist. So this is something you know about.

GARZA: Yes, yes, yes, I work with people all the time that struggle with PTSD. So I know how devastating and debilitating it can be, you know.

And then, it's the family members that are struggling to pick up the pieces of that daily. But it's also those people were there to, you know, destroy the will of the people. They could have destabilized government, as we know it.

You know?

The vice president was in the building. People were after the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. I mean, the -- it's just unbelievable, to me, that they could do nothing about this. And now is not the time to sit around and say, well, maybe, we'll do

something in the future. The time to do something is now.

And again, I mean, though there were some tense moments yesterday, I'm hopeful that at least they'll be able to reflect on some of what we said, as the days go on. And they'll be able to, you know, start to get the ball rolling fast and say, we need to do something now.

And I think, more importantly, is to listen to the officers that were there, that day, on the ground, because there's this misconception that there were no firearms there, that those people in the crowd had no firearms. There were firearms there. And I'm talking about handguns, not just the, you know, general term, weapons.

I'm talking about actual handguns. People had handguns on them. So, you know, this is serious. This is serious stuff.


BRUNHUBER: And you can watch Jake Tapper's full interview with the mother and partner of Brian Sicknick at

All right. Want to bring in Thomas Gift, who is the director of the Center on U.S. Politics at University College London, and he joins us now from Oxford.

Thanks so much for being here.

Just off the bat, did anything surprise you about the vote?

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Not at all, Kim. I mean, the first point to note is the most obvious and that is the Republican filibuster was not at all surprising. It's a pattern. Impeachment 1.0, impeachment 2.0, the Big Lie; any number of intervening scandals, large and small, during the Trump years.

Republicans, under Mitch McConnell, have always remained unified and put party interests first. So I think, anyone hoping that a large bloc of GOP senators would buck that trend here, either, hasn't been paying attention the last four years or is engaging in wishful thinking.

The outcome here was entirely predictable. It's worth underscoring a handful of moderate Republicans did vote their conscience, including Mitt Romney. But most GOP lawmakers continue to downplay the significance of what happened at the Capitol and deflect blame for it.

It's another reminder of the stranglehold Trump has over the party.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely, but polling has been clear. Some three-quarters of Republicans say too much is being made of January 6th, time to move on.

So aren't the Republican senators who vote against the commission just -- just representing the wishes of their constituents?

GIFT: Well, I think you could certainly make that case. I mean, there is lots of data, as you suggest, that many Republican rank-and-file voters don't think that this is a big issue.

A survey, last month by Reuters, showed that more than 50 percent of Republicans thought the Capitol riot was initiated by violent, left- wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad. "The New York Times" actually just reported yesterday on polling, showing that the percentage of QAnon supporters in the United States is roughly on par with the percentage of adherents to some major religions in the country.

So clearly, there are some voters who will believe what they want to believe. But I think, to a large extent, what we are seeing here is that Republicans are afraid of three things: the truth, Donald Trump and their own voters. In large part, they are representing them.

BRUNHUBER: So what's next, then?

Democrats say they might launch a select committee to look into it.

So what would be the point here?


BRUNHUBER: Republicans would say, you know, we know what happened. There -- there are several committees that have or are looking into the security response, which is probably the main, actionable aspect of this.

So is there any point, beyond the Democratic political objective of keeping this in people's minds with a view to the midterms?

GIFT: Well, I do expect House Democrats will proceed with their own inquiry into the Capitol insurrection. Invariably, however, as you suggest, Republicans will cast it as a bipartisan maneuver and characterize any findings through the lens of a left-leaning media.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, for example, has already talked disparagingly about a Pelosi select committee. That may be hypocritical because Republicans wanted the opportunity to convene a bipartisan panel.

But really, it doesn't matter. I think what the American people will then be subject to is a stream of information that's only been vetted by one party; separating partisan spin from fact won't be easy.

So, voters will just take what they want from it and, again, we will arrive at the default, Kim, more partisan polarization. And that's really what I envision, going forward.

BRUNHUBER: You sound very, very resigned to the inevitable here.

What does this portend for the rest of Biden's agenda?

Will it help bring reluctant Democrats around to the idea of killing the filibuster?

GIFT: It could. I mean, procedural issues aside, though, I think, the major challenge here is going to be for Democrats to be able to proceed on this front without looking like they are distracted.

And again, this is a challenge that we saw going back to the impeachment of Donald Trump, where a lot of critics just said, if Democrats hang on too much to what Trump has done or this scandal or that scandal, then they are going to be perceived as not focused on the bread-and-butter issues that most voters care about.

So, it's a balancing act for sure. And I think Democrats will have to toe that line and tread it very carefully.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thomas Gift in Oxford, England, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

GIFT: Thanks, Kim.


BRUNHUBER: The Biden administration is now turning up the heat on Belarus after last weekend's forced landing of a Ryanair commercial flight. Two passengers were taken off the plane and detained.

Late Friday, the White House announced it's working with U.S. allies to target the Lukashenko regime with sanctions. The plane was en route to Lithuania from Greece when it was diverted.

And that prompted Lithuania to expel two Belarusian diplomats. Belarus responded a short time later by kicking out two Lithuanian diplomats. Many international airlines are now avoiding Belarus.

And the E.U. has called for a ban on flights from Belarusian carriers. But president Alexander Lukashenko was defiant as he met Friday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the latest.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As international condemnation mounts against the regime in Minsk and specifically, against Belarusian strongman, Alexander Lukashenko, Lukashenko paid a visit to Vladimir Putin in Sochi and obviously, the incident with the Ryanair plane and the Belarusian authorities forcing that plane land was certainly one of the things that was on the agenda.

It was quite interesting because, before that meeting even started, Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin could be seen together. Lukashenko had a briefcase next to the chair he was sitting in and said he had brought documents that he said would clarify the situation.

Now it wasn't clear whether he was specifically speaking about that incident, but it certainly did come up. Vladimir Putin, for his part, showing that he continues to support Alexander Lukashenko. That's important and seems to be very strong indeed.

Several Russian politicians have come out and said they believe the explanations Minsk has been offering up for forcing that jet to land are, as they put it, plausible. That as the international community continues punching holes in the narrative.

In fact, CNN obtained an email that was allegedly sent to the Belarusian authorities where they claim the reason why they told jet to land was because there was a bomb threat on board.

It turns out that email was apparently sent 30 minutes or less after the plane had already been told to divert and, in fact, European countries are continuing to say they believe that those explanations do not hold up and are vowing to take tougher action against Minsk -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


BRUNHUBER: The sanctions announced by the White House on Friday were in addition to U.S. sanctions unveiled in April, that are set to go into effect next week.

CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser says the U.S. was already upset with Belarus because of its crackdown on dissent. But the Ryanair incident has dramatically raised the stakes. Listen to this.


SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Truthfully, this government has been trying to silence dissent for a long time.


GLASSER: What's interesting, Belarus hasn't been on the agenda so much here in Washington. It's been an inward-looking moment.

And the crackdown that followed the election, in which Lukashenko not only insisted on maintaining power but essentially has launched a massive action of oppression around the country, since then, you haven't really seen a major response by the United States.

To me, by engaging in this active air piracy, now you are seeing United States talk more about human rights as a result of that in a way they might not have otherwise.

So did Lukashenko miscalculate?

Did he understand that was going to bring down more pressure from the United States?

I don't know. I do think that is one result, certainly, of this.


BRUNHUBER: Washington says the cyberattack reported Thursday was much bigger than previously thought. More than 7,000 accounts were hit, across some 350 American organizations, including many of the U.S. government.

Among them, the U.S. Agency for International Development. Microsoft says a Russian group linked to the Kremlin could be behind it all, the same one that targeted some federal agencies last year. CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is the timing of this alleged cyberattack that, I think, is the most striking. Just a few weeks before the U.S. and Russian presidents are set to meet in Switzerland for a face-to-face summit that is already fraught with a long list of disagreements and grievances.

Russia's (INAUDIBLE) the latest crisis involving Minsk (INAUDIBLE) airline apparently to arrest two passengers on board. The treatment of Alexei Navalny, Russia's jailed opposition leader, the Russian military threat to Ukraine. And add these fresh hacking allegations, to add to the historical ones that are already there.

To make matters worse, since President Biden imposed tough sanctions on Russia for precisely this kind of cyberattack, the SolarWinds hack, targeting U.S. government agencies and blamed by Washington on the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service.

Microsoft which is taking the latest hacking of U.S. aid agencies, think tanks and humanitarian groups, mainly in the U.S., said the same group of Russian hackers are responsible this time around. For its part, the Kremlin has denied any knowledge of the espionage, saying it has questions about why Russia is again being blamed -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


BRUNHUBER: There are new questions surrounding the origins of COVID-19 as U.S. intel reignites a controversial theory surrounding a lab in Wuhan, China. We will bring you what's next in the search for answers. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The World Health Organization says politics are poisoning its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. The agency is urging countries to separate politics from science.

Their plea comes as the U.S. is ramping up its own efforts to flesh out two theories, including a possible lab leak in China. CNN's David Culver has reported extensively from Wuhan, where the virus was first identified. And he filed this report from Shanghai.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden ordering U.S. intelligence to dig deeper into the origin of COVID-19. Putting a renewed focus on the Chinese city, where it was first publicly detected, Wuhan.

The White House says there are two possible origin theories. The first and natural spread from animals to humans, possibly amplified, inside this once crowded Wuhan seafood market. The second and far more controversial possibility, a leak of the deadly virus from this Wuhan lab.

JAMIE METZL, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: We know that China engaged in a massive cover-up, starting from day one, including destroying samples, hiding records and then imprisoning people in China, asking basic questions, and placing a gag order.

CULVER (voice-over): It has been well over a year since the initial outbreak and still no conclusive answers. Former President Trump made claims last spring that it started in the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab but never provided evidence.

The Chinese, along with many scientists, dismissing Trump's lab leak theory as a conspiracy. President Biden took office, supporting an international approach and investigating the origin.

This week, sources, familiar with the matter, tell CNN that Biden also shut down the Trump State Department inquiry into the origins over concerns about the quality of the evidence.

But now with newly reported intel, there are new questions of what China knew and when. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting this week a U.S. intel report found that several researchers at the Wuhan lab got so sick, they needed to go to the hospital in November 2019.

That is weeks before China reported its first patient with COVID like symptoms to the WHO. It has led to mounting pressure on the Biden administration to find answers.

In January of this year, we were in Wuhan, as the WHO sent a field team into China to investigate, visiting the now shuttered market once believed to have been the original ground zero. Since, it has been wiped clean.

We drove by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, heavily secured and, despite multiple requests, we were not granted access to enter. This is as close as we got.

The WHO scientists, however, were allowed in.

Their conclusion?

It is very likely the virus spread naturally from animals and that a lab leak was extremely unlikely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no evidence of that at all. But it is something that we talked about with people at the Wuhan lab. It got really honest and frank and good, informative answers, too.

CULVER (voice-over): But that's the issue with the WHO investigation. According to some of the scientists who took part, it relied largely on conversations with the Chinese scientists, taking them at their word.


CULVER (voice-over): Some of the experts, complaining that China blocked them from crucial data. Those, like Dr. Peter Daszak, have been criticized for their personal ties to the Wuhan lab, having helped fund and take part in the research in the facility before the outbreak.

Virologist Marion Koopmans (ph) was among the WHO team in Wuhan in January. She's careful to characterize the team's work as research gathering, not as an inspection. She also welcomes Biden's efforts to get more intel on the origins, hoping that he will share the findings.

MARION KOOPMANS, VIROLOGIST: So if there really is something to it, well, then it should be followed up.

CULVER (voice-over): In the meantime, China pushes back with its own narrative, calling the U.S. efforts a smear campaign.

"Their motive is vicious," the spokesperson says.

Chinese officials have relentlessly pushed an unfounded conspiracy, that the virus began in the U.S. But there's no evidence of that. Chinese state media labeling the virus an imported threat, even baselessly suggesting it came from outside of China on frozen foods.

CULVER: From the chaos and the confusion of the initial outbreak, to the surge in panic as the number of deaths soared and the virus spread, to the hopes that vaccines might bring us back to life pre- COVID-19, we are still left with the question, how did this all really happen? -- David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


BRUNHUBER: So while the U.S. digs for answers about how the virus started, it's making big strides emerging from the pandemic. Coming up, how travel is surging across the nation ahead of a holiday weekend.

Plus, despite Europe's slow vaccine rollout, the E.U. drug regulator just approved lowering the age for getting a shot. We will go to London for details, just ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: As COVID cases drop and restrictions loosen, the U.S. is putting its new normal to the test this weekend. Millions of people are expected to travel for the long-Memorial Day holiday. And just in time for the unofficial start to summer is the -- in the U.S., the CDC is relaxing its guidelines for camps. CNN's Nick Watt has details.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A seismic shift for summer. The CDC just said vaccinated kids do not need to wear masks at camp. Meantime, "Cruella" and "A Quiet Place Part II" are playing in open movie theaters nationwide; 135,000 fans expected at the Indy 500 Sunday.

This holiday weekend, roughly one in 10 Americans are expected to travel.

DARBY LAJOYE, ACTING TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Many airports have already returned to or exceeded 2019 prepandemic levels.

Daily case counts are now falling but so are average daily vaccine shots, peaked at nearly 3.4 million mid-April; just over 1.6 million late May. Most adults who want to get vaccinated have started the process, say pollsters.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We've certainly reached the lion's share of people who are eager to get the vaccine. The willing is the complicated part here. There are a lot of people who are willing but it's hard for them. I think we can get them but it's going to take a lot of work.

WATT (voice-over): California is giving away over $100 million in incentives. West Virginia just announced cash prizes, college scholarships, pickup trucks; also, emotional blackmail.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): You have got to get vaccinated for Baby Doll. It's all there is to it. Now she wants you vaccinated so badly, she'll give you a high five right now. But you have got to get yourself vaccinated.

WATT: Now, just briefly back to that CDC guidance on summer camps, even unvaccinated kids can pretty much roam free without masks outdoors. And, you know, the CDC has also posted guidance for camps where not everyone is vaccinated. And number one on the list of guidance is, just tell everyone to get vaccinated -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.



BRUNHUBER: Joining me now from Los Angeles is Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Thanks so much for joining us. So heading into the Memorial Day weekend here, in the U.S., on one hand, as we just saw, cases are going down. And it's the first holiday in which millions of Americans, about half of them, have been fully vaccinated.

On the other hand, now, there are, you know, few restrictions. And we are already seeing so many people acting like the pandemic is basically over. And now, some -- some 37 million people are expect today travel over the holidays. It feels like a big test for the country.

How are you looking at it?

What -- what are you expecting?

ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, you know, I think that we have come so far from where we were just several months ago. And we're starting to reap the benefits of seeing so many people vaccinated; 50 percent of the population has had a vaccine, at least one vaccine. That's fantastic news.

But -- and for those -- and I would say for those who are vaccinated, it's time to really start to enjoy so many of these benefits. But for people who have not yet been vaccinated, the risk of coronavirus infection is still very real and very, very dangerous.

So we're reaching a point now, where people who have not yet been vaccinated are really starting to bear the burden of their decision.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. I mean, as you say, there is so many people who haven't been. They're trying to, you know, find all these creative ways to encourage people, as we saw, lotteries, scholarships, preferential tickets, even dating app badges, these gimmicks.

Do you think they'll -- they'll work?

And what message does it send to those who are the first to get the vaccine, who believed in the science, stood in line to get those shots, now seeing the most reluctant people getting rewarded for holding out?

I hope I am not sounding too bitter here.

RIMOIN: It's interesting that you bring this up. I spent my entire career working in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we have been working on these issues of vaccination and vaccine hesitancy, trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

And I understand the peril of starting to give incentives for vaccination.

The worry is, what does that mean in the future?

Are we always going to have to incentivize people for vaccination?

I hope not. I really think what's been happening here is to get people's attention, to get them over the finish line.

BRUNHUBER: Thanks so much for joining us, Anne, really appreciate it.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

[04:35:00] BRUNHUBER: The World Health Organization's European director is reportedly worried that Europe's vaccine rollout is going too slowly. In an interview with AFP, he also warned that the pandemic won't be over in Europe until at least 70 percent of Europeans are vaccinated.

But fewer than 16 percent of Europe's population is currently fully vaccinated according to, our world in data. Still, Europe is taking a big step toward getting children protected. So for more on that, let's bring in CNN's Scott McLean in London.

Scott, young people 12 and over, here in the U.S. and Canada, can get a COVID shot.

So when will young Europeans follow suit?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So everything has been stamped and approved. Now it's just up to the 27 member states to actually decide, individually, when they are going to start giving the shot to children 12 and above.

This got the stamp of approval from the European vaccines regulator, which basically said that the data shows that it is as or even more effective as it is in older teens or younger adults and the side effects are roughly the same.

But, Kim, that same regulator also conceded that this clinical trial that led to this approval is not going to show you the very rare, adverse side effects that we have seen with some of the other vaccines. Those are only going to show up once you start giving it to children in the millions. And so they have to watch closely there.

This clinical trial, which was done in the U.S., only had about 2,000 kids involved, which means half of them got the vaccine. So, out of a thousand kids, zero ended up with the coronavirus infection. And so, on paper, you would think that's 100 percent efficacy. In reality, the regulator said that could actually be as low as 75 percent.

Pfizer, by the way, Kim, is also working on clinical trials involving children as young as 6 months old. They are hoping to have that data by September.

Before Europe starts to think about vaccinating kids, though, they need to get through their adult population, which obviously, as -- is at a much greater risk, by and large. More than one-third of the population has had at least one shot of the vaccine. That's not bad but it still lags behind, say, the U.S. and certainly behind the U.K., where that number is approaching 60 percent.

The U.K., by the way, also just approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That's the one-shot vaccine. It's one of seven shots that they had invested early and very heavily in. And so now, remember, they made that investment when they didn't know if any of these vaccines would actually work.

Now four out of those seven are approved and ready to go, though they won't actually start rolling out the shot until later this year. That shot also is facing the same kind of scrutiny or has faced the same kind of scrutiny that the AstraZeneca shot has faced over these very extremely rare blood clots.

It's also not quite as effective as some of the other vaccines, though it is quite effective against severe disease and hospitalization, more than 85 percent there. This comes, though, as the U.K. is really trying to ramp up its vaccination rate more broadly.

Yes, it is ahead of most other countries on Earth, but it has the threat of the Indian variant right now. In fact, if you look at the weekly totals this past seven days, cases are 25 percent higher than they were seven days previous. And this is a country that has a massive vaccination rate, nonetheless.

And that's because of threat of this Indian variant, which spreads much faster than the currently dominant U.K. variant. In fact, the health secretary of this country said earlier this week, Kim, that he estimates that as much as three out of every four new infections in this country could be that Indian variant, Kim.

So, a lot of work to do, still, in the U.K., despite the progress made on vaccinations.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. Very worrying statistic there. Scott McLean, in London, thanks so much.

Tens of thousands are fleeing a major city in the Democratic Republic of Congo as fears of a second volcanic eruption create a humanitarian crisis. We will take you there live coming up. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The U.S. State Department is welcoming news of the release of hundreds of men in the Tigray region but is condemning the fact that they were ever detained at all. A spokesperson says all those responsible for human rights violations and atrocities must be held to account.

In a CNN exclusive, aid workers say those men were set free Thursday, following a CNN report into their detention that sparked international outrage. Nima Elbagir has been reporting extensively on the conflict and has the latest.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It took two statements by the United Nations and a call for accountability and the immediate release by United States senator Chris Coons.

But hundreds of Tigrayan men have now been released. The young men who had been detained, tell CNN, tortured and beaten by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers because, they say, they were accused of being part of Tigrayan rebel forces.

Humanitarian workers at the scene say a handful of men still remain in detention, whom they are seeking access to.

CNN's investigation into these detentions prompted international censure. But this is just one incident. This is just one incident that has now been resolved after the weight of international opinion was brought to bear.

There are so many more incidents in Tigray, so many more families, seeking to know more about lost loved ones. And it really speaks to how difficult the situation in Tigray has proved to resolve, that it takes this much to get Ethiopia and Eritrean soldiers to change course -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: And the U.S. State Department welcomed the news of the release but denounced the fact that they were detained. A spokesperson told CNN, Eritrean forces must leave Tigray and all those responsible for human rights violations, abuses and atrocities must be held to account.

The atrocities being committed are absolutely unacceptable. They shock the conscience and must end.

At least three people are dead after violent protests in Colombia Friday. That brings the total death toll since demonstrations began a month ago to 46. The protests originally began over a now-scrapped tax reform bill and expanded into demands for basic income and police reform.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are worried about a second possible volcanic eruption in a week. People are seeking the safety of a shelter but many have moved to other cities and even gone across the border to Rwanda.

And UNICEF warns thousands more, including many children, could become homeless if the Mount Nyiragongo volcano erupts again. Larry Madowo is joining me now from just outside Goma.

Larry, what's the latest?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim, it's a double tragedy here, one, because there is just so many livelihoods at work (INAUDIBLE) this lava.


MADOWO: What you see behind me used to be people's homes. Right next to where we are standing used to be a family of seven, a mother and her six children. And there is nothing left of it. What you see smoldering there used to be a home. Her business, her livelihood, everything she owns has been covered by this lava.

She's been back here for the first time, she's overcome with emotion. She doesn't know what to do or where to start. But she is -- her neighbor next door was luckier, that the lava took down her wall but not the home itself. The house is intact and it's made of wood so it would not have offered any resistance.

And we are hearing so many stories about people and they don't even know how to restart, 80,000 people have been displaced from this, 80,000 households, 400,000 people, according to the local military governor here.

And some people tell us they don't think they are going to get any compensation and they just don't know where to start. And then, on top of that, they are now being told there is a possibility of a new eruption from under the ground or under Lake Kivu, that could come with little or no warning. So they just can't catch a break.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Larry Madowo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just outside the city of Goma. Appreciate your reporting there.

Inflation is creating a bump on the road, as the U.S. economy gets up to speed. But some businesses blame the pandemic itself for having to raise their prices. We'll explain. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Experts here in the U.S. are advising vacationers to pack their patience for this Memorial Day holiday weekend. AAA expects some 37 million people to travel more than 50 miles from home. The Centers for Disease Control is also predicting COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths will fall over the next four weeks.

And for those who are vaccine hesitant, some states are offering incentives to get the shot. This weekend, New York and New Jersey are offering sunbathers a chance to get vaccinated while at the beach.

The U.S. economy is roaring back to life as the pandemic eases. But there is a potential headwind. A key measure of inflation hit a 29- year high in April. And some businesses say they have no choice but to raise prices. Clare Sebastian explains why.


JEFF FRIEDMAN, CEO, NATIONAL ELEVATOR CAB AND DOOR: This is the wall of an elevator cab, the exterior structural wall.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): For a business that specializes in, well, things that go up, 2021 has come as a shock. FRIEDMAN: This is made of carbon steel. Carbon steel which months ago cost us around 45 to 50 cents a pound and today, it is costing us around a dollar a pound.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): So that's more than double.

FRIEDMAN: More than doubled, yes.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The sharp increase in the price of steel, their main raw material has come with sharp decreases in supply as the steel mills that shut down during COVID have struggled to ramp back up quick enough.

FRIEDMAN: This is stainless steel here, these are going to be the decorative skins for a door panel. There are real supply shortages in this.

We're being told, material that we might wait a week for to be two to three months.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): For the first time in four years, CEO Jeff Friedman is having to raise prices on new work. His business like many others caught in the middle of a post-COVID supply-demand crunch.

DAVID WILCOX, SENIOR FELLOW, PETERSEN INSTITUTE: There are some supply constraints that are choking certain aspects of the economy. There are areas where demand is surging for the first time in 15 months.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over) In April, consumer prices rose 4.2 percent compared to a year ago. The biggest jump since 2008. One major contributor, a 21 percent rise in the price of used cars and trucks as global microchip shortages impacted supply of new cars and that along with stimulus checks, urban flight and a fear of public transport drove demand for older vehicles.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): This Toyota Prius for example, just sold for around $6,000.00 a year ago, the dealer tells us, the price would've been more like $5,000.00. He says, he is having to increase prices by at least 20 percent across the board.

JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: This one-time increases in prices are likely to have only transitory effects on inflation.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The Federal Reserve says this won't last and they won't raise rates until more people get back into work. Economists say it'll take more than just price rises to shift that view.

WILCOX: I think the warning signs are does higher inflation get reflected in inflation expectations? I need to raise my prices if I'm a business firm because my competitors are doing that, because my workers are demanding wage increases.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): At National Elevator Cab and Door in Brooklyn, while wages have gone up as the company works through a backlog of pre- COVID contracts, its future demand that keeps the CEO awake at night.

FRIEDMAN: How many elevators will people need? How fast will buildings want to replace what they have? So that is an existential question for us. The price of material is painful, we'll survive, but if people don't come back to buildings, we've got a problem.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): And that the internal wiring of the post-COVID economy is still not clear. Something which will ultimately determine the prices we pay -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: Portugal is coping with an English invasion of football fans. Thousands of Chelsea and Manchester City fans are there for the Champions League final.

As you will see here, English fans packed bars Friday night after Portugal's government eased COVID-19 restrictions; 16,500 fans will be allowed into the stadium for Saturday's match.

European football officials moved the final from Istanbul because of COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama is praising a young British football star for his efforts to ensure children get enough to eat.

Obama joined England forward Marcus Rashford for a video call on how young people can make an impact on society. Rashford successfully persuaded the British government to continue its free school meal program over the holidays.


BRUNHUBER: They talked about personal responsibility, the value of reading and education and why Obama says he doesn't measure up to Rashford.


MARCUS RASHFORD, MANCHESTER UNITED FORWARD: For me, being in sports, I just made out my life could change very, very quickly and, if I wasn't like mature enough or a certain level in my own head. And it makes stuff like fame and bits like that even more difficult to cope with.

Free books, you can grow yourself from whichever way you want rather than somebody keep telling me to do this and do that. Books allowed me to just do it my own way.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Entire worlds are possible in books. You can grow and discover and make connections that you might not otherwise have made, just by the simple act of picking up and opening a book.

When you look at the history of big social movements and big social change, it's usually young people who initiate this. Marcus, I think, is way ahead of where I was at 23. I was still trying to figure it out.


BRUNHUBER: For his work, Rashford has been made a member of the Order of the British Empire. As for that call with Obama, he is describing it as surreal.

I am Kim Brunhuber, I will be back in just a moment with more NEWSROOM. Please, do stay with us.